Bridge is a structure that provides passage over obstacles such as valleys, rough terrain or bodies of water by spanning those obstacles with natural or manmade materials. They first begun be used in ancient times when first modern civilizations started rising in the Mesopotamia. From that point on, knowledge, engineering, and manufacture of new bridge building materials spread beyond their borders, enabling slow but steady adoption of bridges all across the world.
In the beginning bridges were very simple structures that were built from easily accessible natural resources- wooden logs, stone and dirt. Because of that, they had ability only to span very close distances, and their structural integrity was not high because mortar was not yet invented and rain slowly but constantly dissolved dirt fillings of the bridge. Revolution in the bridge construction came in Ancient Rome whose engineers found that grinded out volcanic rocks can serve as an excellent material for making mortar. This invention enabled them to build much more sturdier, powerful and larger structures than any civilization before them. Seeing the power of roads and connections to distant lands, Roman architects soon spread across the Europe, Africa and Asia, building bridges and roads of very high quality.
Bridge history is filled with incredible achievements and new technologies that enabled bridges to become one of the most important tools of bridging cities, countries and continents. This is their story.
During their long history, bridges managed to influence our culture and improve the way we travel, do business and forge policies. Here you can found out some of the most incredible facts about bridges.
If you want to know what bridges ar the most famous in the world, here is the perfect place to do so. Learn about historical bridges, marvels of modern engineering and bridges with the designs that will live forever.
Model bridge building is a popular pastime, where hobbyists create bridge models from various materials like spaghettis, toothpicks, balsa wood, etc. Miniature bridge making is also often used in education in areas like physics and engineering. Numerous competitive bridge building contents are held annually, with various rules and goals.
One of the defining successes of Roman bridge architecture was their discovery of arches. By using this type of building, load forces of the bridge were conveyed to move along the curve of the arch, meeting with the ground where they were canceled by supports on the end of the arch. Because of that, Romans were able to create bridges that were much lighter than before and were able to hold load that was twice as heavy as the bridge itself. In construction of their numerous aqueducts, Roman architects even managed to create water carrying bridges with multiple arched tiers that reached incredible heights!
By using this new building technique, Romans had the ability to quickly produce cheap, light and very powerful bridges from materials that could be found in the vicinity of the project. The only material that had to be imported from Italy was mortar dust, which was combined with water and inserted into bridge structure.
After the fall of roman empire, bridge building techniques in Europe and Asia stagnated until the 18th century (if we ignore introduction of Rope suspension bridges that were brought back to Europe from Central and South America) when new age of science and engineering swept across the world. Architects of that time started using new construction material – cast iron! Iron enabled creation of new bridge designs such as truss systems. Sadly, wrought iron did not have tensile strength to support heavy structures, which was fixed with the advent of steel and the ideas of famous French architect and engineer Gustave Eiffel.
Modern bridges are usually made with the combination of concrete, irons and cables, and can be built from very small sizes to incredible lengths that span entire mountains, rough landscapes, lakes and seas.